Walked up to Cause last night thinking it was gonna be just another lame hip hop show. So why did I even bother? Plain and simple: I’m broke and it was free. Plus, you should never underestimate a chance to get out of the house and drink beer under strictly non-judgmental gazes. I suppose there’s also that homegrown, Minneapolis impulse in me to get out and support my local music.
It’s always a good thing to have your expectations exceeded. Everyone who took the stage was out to impress with their passion and talent.
Solid starters warmed up the audience, building up some nice anticipation to give you that warm, fuzzy feeling when you’re rocking out a show. Jay Amato brought some class and soul all the way from Milwaukee with some serious guitar skills and a hands-down beautiful voice. In my opinion, however, the real shining moments came through once he ditched the Marshall Mathers raps and showed his clear talent for modern, kicked-up blues. We are all sure to be hearing a lot more from local hip-hopper Danami, whose cool and refined stage presence make him already seem a bit too big for Minneapolis. The crowd was right in his hands by the time he rained down the energy from atop the bar with stand-out closing track “This is Hip-Hop.”
By the time the Level Heads took the stage, I was feeling massively guilty for ever denouncing this night as just another crappy show. The guys should feel as fortunate for their hearty and healthy fan base (filling the floor) as I do stupid for never hearing of them until now.
In short, they rocked it, taking all of us somewhere else besides a mundane Thursday night in September that felt a little too much like October. Not that they had any help at all from the shitty Cause sound system - how annoying - but props anyways to the Heads for overcoming. (In fact, nice work to all the artists who delivered last night despite the sound set-backs; that’s really the mark of true performers.)
The clear passion, hard work and talent of the Heads was most tangible during the Weezer-riffed “A Thing Called Love,” reggae-influenced “Feel It In Your Soul” and the eloquently political “Reinvent.” It’s easy to see that some thought has gone into the lyrics (even when you can’t really hear them) and its hard to find fault in the production. Let’s not forget, either, the pretty amazing band backing them up. (Actually, I would be totally happy to listen to them all on their own, anytime; and anyway, who IS that guitarist?)
Do I have any criticisms? Sure I do. First of all, we heard all night long about how much producer Lokes loves his lady…so what about some LADIES in the band, guys? And considering how beautiful and complementary the instrumentals are to the Level Heads’ spoken words, I’m surprised and disappointed not to hear more of that on the EP or the “Current Affairs” album. Rappers in the Twin Cities are a dime a dozen these days, and having that reggae, soul and R&B sound is what can make the Heads special, different and interesting - what music should always strive to be.
Definitely put a watch on these guys - keep it up and make Minneapolis proud!
Swoop up some free downloads while you can at http://thelevelheads.com/ or of course, find them the easy way on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheLevelHeads and Twitter @thelevelheads.